Reflections on the Curriculum Progress Tools

In a previous blog post I said my next steps with the Learning Progressions Framework (LPF) and Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) would be to work with a diverse group of college teachers. We have met weekly and I thought it would be good to round the year off with a reflective post.

Initial steps

We started off as a core group at the start of term two. Our group is made up of teachers from the following departments: English, Social Studies, Science, Visual Art, Technology, Business and PE.

Our progress is summed up in this presentation: Link to slides here

Term 2 and 3 Progress

  1. Got to know our way around the Curriculum Progress Tool (CPT)
  2. Looked at PaCT and LPF in relation to NZC Levels
  3. Got into pairs to share ideas and grow understanding
  4. Had a play with a selection of student data
  5. Developed rubrics to get teachers on board
  6. Went back to LPFs and PaCT and used the tools to mark and moderate

Term 4 Deeper Dive

Although the PaCT website gives you everything you need, change management dictates that you should introduce users incrementally, using familiar concepts and material, in our case, rubrics and templates. So we did just that. We spent some time revising the LPFs which underpin the PaCT tool. We clarified our understanding of the framework. Using this framework, we looked at our student’s work. And then we chose two aspects and marked those pieces of work and placed them on curriculum levels.

Next we reviewed the NZC and AOs per curriculum area Link here

We read this article from the Ed gazette Full article here

After working extensively with the CPTs, we expanded our group somewhat. We met with senior managers and Year 7 and 8 HODs to discuss our journey. We discussed the alignment of Years 7 to 10 with regard to writing. It is our hope that writing can be issued as a stand alone report generated from PaCT, as opposed to a distilled grade on the reports.

Over the next few weeks we continued to expand our circle. We met with HODs from all represented departments, as well as maths. We discussed what we had achieved thus far. We discussed curriculum levels and LPFs, and why we are aligning rubrics. The main reason for this extra step was to give staff something familiar, while starting to weave PaCT and LPFs into these rubrics. In this way we hope to slowly get them used to the various signposts and aspects resident in the LPFs. Rather than launching them directly into the website. That’s in our longer term thinking.

Next we met with the writing lead teachers from Years 7 and 8, along with the core group. We took sample writing from years 7 to 10 and moderated these against the curriculum levels. Although there were a few fish hooks thrown in, we were pleased to mostly agree on the curriculum levels.

Once we had shared our journey, we went back to the core group and shifted our focus back directly onto the CPT website. Having recently entered curriculum levels onto reports, we were keen to test our curriculum level marks, particularly those that were on a level below the expected norm, with those generated by PaCT. We were all pleasantly reassured that our curriculum levels correlated with the overall judgment generated from PaCT. But we certainly agreed that, what PaCT gives us is far greater detail to our judgements. So for those students who score low in some areas, but still show progress, this is a great tool.

Then in pairs we looked at agreed aspects with sets of common students. The aim being to enter data and generate reports for a pilot group. We noticed a huge divide between writing for English, and writing for other subjects. This remains a work in progress for next year.

Observations and conclusions

One of the most common criticisms from teachers about LPFs and PaCT is that they can’t see a direct alignment with the NZC levels. It is there, and it is certainly evident in PaCT when the signposts have been entered, but it does not overlay the framework. The more I work with both the curriculum levels, and with PaCT, the more I understand why that is. Here are my observations, based on MoE PLD and readings from The design and development of the LPFs

The signposts go from the most basic conceptual step, through to the most sophisticated step, with everything in between. This gives clarity to the students’ progress because it is not constrained by time, as the NZC levels are.

The LPFs and PaCT give a quantitative scale for measuring the relative difficulty of each aspect. This scale runs both horizontally and vertically, knowing that some skills are harder to master than others. The design of the model followed a robust, rigorous and reliable process.

The illustrations in the LPF website are from samples gathered from across New Zealand, trialled and moderated by more than 800 teachers. 

 I have found the process of marking based on a set of illustrations to be comprehensive and reliable. The system I followed was to take a piece of writing, go to the signpost I thought would be the correct one and check the work against the illustration. Then made the decision if it was the best fit. And it is best fit, not perfect mastery of the skill. To speed the process up, I clustered my students into similar ability groupings so that you spend time looking at a set of illustrations for a group of students.

The LPFs encourage teachers to have a mental model of progress for their students. That is why you don’t need to have piles of student work physically lying in front of you in order to make judgements. Obviously you’d need evidence to back up your judgements, but the big picture idea of student process should be something you know. This in turn helps the teacher to understand what their students need help with. When confirming PaCT judgements, we should be confident about our professional judgements.

The LPFs indicate the teacher’s understanding of each students’ progress. While PaCT tracks that progress.

With the revamp of NCEA literacy and numeracy standards, I feel confident that this journey that we have started is both responsible and rewarding. And the ones that stand to benefit are our students.

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